On Monday, the newly elected student representative council (SRC) at the Durban University of Technology forged ahead the S-Bux struggle in a protest that saw hundreds of students taking to the vice chancellor’s office. This, after management allegedly failed to sign a memorandum of demands from students.
Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (EFFSC) at the Durban University of Technology led a protest over S-Bux, a National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) system which they say has failed to roll out allowances for scores of students since January this year.
Despite a communique from the management condemning the organised protest and declaring it illegal, students gathered at the ML Sultan campus, where the march starting point was.
According to the SRC president Sesiyanda Godlimpi, the protest was prompted by unpaid students allowances.
“There are people who haven’t received their meal allowances for the entire semester. Students received told R5,500 that was last semester as laptop allowance but now they are being told by the outgoing SRC that the money they received was meals.
“They have already bought these laptops and now can’t go to class on an empty stomach,” said Godlimpi.
One student who asked not to be named said the issue of S-Bux has affected a number of students since the beginning of the year, but there are people who are receiving doubled amounts of money.
“We are confused by what’s happening. Some of us haven’t received any money but our friends and roommates are receiving a lot of money. One of the students at res received R10,000 but some of us haven’t received a cent. It’s confusing how these allowances are being allocated,” she said.
The struggle of NSFAS, particularly S-Bux at DUT is an old one. It has seen a series of protests before but a year later students are still complaining about this,matter being unresolved.
Sometime this year, students took to the street and shut down Durban campuses after the outgoing SRC allegedly failed and sold them out.
Godlimpi also highlighted the issue of financial exclusion and late registration to be among the issues they are fighting for.
Meanwhile, management at the institution said in a statement that operations continue and there’s been no cancellation of classes.
“The Durban University of Technology (DUT) has noted with concern the disruption of classes and the intimidation of staff and students earlier this morning, (Monday) 17 September 2018.
“Two campuses in Durban were affected, namely the ML Sultan and Steve Biko campuses. While the University management noted the poster that was circulated on social media over the weekend, which had threatened to shut down University operations today (17 September 2018), DUT management did not know the reasons for that threat,” said Alan Khan, senior director of Corporate Affairs at DUT.
Khan added that the vice-chancellor received a memorandum of demands from the SRC.
“This morning, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of DUT Professor Thandwa Mthembu, received a memorandum with a list of demands from the SRC. A meeting has been scheduled with the SRC for midday today to discuss the issues that were raised in their memorandum.
“DUT has not been shut down, University operations continue and classes are on the go, despite some of the disruptions this morning. We wish to encourage protesting students to dissuade from threatening and intimidating staff and students who are not protesting, as this is illegal,” Khan said.
The SRC has vowed to shut down the institution if their demands are not met.
“Students have called for a strike and we can’t isolate ourselves as leaders. We believe in what they are fighting for, come what may we are ready because we understand their struggle,” said Godlimpi.